Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Arizona

On the way back from the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Flagstaff. Whilst there’s actually quite a few breweries after you cross the train tracks, I’d heard a lot about Lumberyard and we were on a short schedule. There was also another reason, the fact they do amazing BBQ food. For the starter we got the Nachos, which came with a generous amount of delicious Guac, Salsa and Chicken that had been cooked in the smoker with Tequila marinade. These were probably the most delicious Nachos I’ve had. As for the beer, I grabbed their Big Rapid Imperial Red Ale. Ruby in colour with a good, medium head. On the nose there were nice piney hops with sweet malt in the background. The taste was much the same, a big hit of caramel from the malts and a little bit of burnt sugar with a piney hop hit. For the main course, I went for the Santa Fe burger with believe it or not – Baked Beans! However, these were done in the smoker, and had a distinctly smoky flavour that I really enjoyed. The burger was great, very fresh Sliced Avocado, green chilies, salsa verde and pepper jack cheese.

After this I got another beer exclusive to the brewery, their Imperial Porter with Vanilla Pods and Coffee Beans. This poured pitch black with a small tan head, lots of roasty notes and a touch of vanilla on the nose. On the palate, a bit initial Coffee hit with subtle Vanilla notes, finishing with the Roasty malts. A very nice brew indeed. On the way out, I picked up the taster pack of 4 cans, their Flagstaff IPA, Lumberyard Red Ale, Knotty Pine Pale Ale and Diamond Down Lager. Out of these cans, the Flagstaff IPA was the best and I’ll be reviewing it soon.

The next day we were back in Phoenix, and on our way to a brewery I’d been looking forward to visiting for a long time – Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. Arizona Wilderness don’t bottle or can their beer but managed to be the best New Brewery in the world last year which is quite a feat!

I went for the I got a flight with the De Kofa Extra Belgian Pale ale, Gilbraltar Gose, the critically acclaimed Refuge IPA, Signal Mountain Stout and Woolsey Wit. These were all absolutely fantastic beers. The De Kofa Pale is the nearest Amber coloured one above, with a peppery, clove but nicely sweet aroma and flavour. A nice English style Spicy Bitter finish on this one. The Gibraltar Gose is the closest one in this picture, A big Sour Funk aroma, with Lemon Juice, Light Coriander and Sea Salt. On the palate, a hit of Coriander, Salt and an intense Sourness on the end. Excellent Gose that I really enjoyed. Next, was the Woolsey Wit (one in the middle) On the nose lots of Orange Peel, Coriander, Citrus, Oak soaked with White Wine. On the palate some intense sourness with some great Grapefruit, Orange and Herbal characters. Next was the Refuge IPA. This one is incredible and I really thought it was going to be my favourite of the night, on the Palate and Nose loads of Resinous Pine and Citrus with great sweet notes of Ripe Apricots and Caramel. For a bold American IPA this went down so smoothly. Finally, my favourite of the night – the Signal Mountain Milk Stout. On the nose Milk chocolate milkshake and caramel notes. Big Milk chocolate and caramel hits on the palate to start followed by a surprising fruity element in the middle. The Vanilla and Lactose Sugar comes out at the end as well as the Nitro body, bringing that nice Milkshake character to this beer.

It was time for a bit of food for us, and a couple more of the Signal Mountains, Refuge and Gibraltar Gose. Chicken Patty, Red Pepper Salsa, Sauteed Rocket, smoked gouda, Avocado on a Brioche bun and a lot of Hot  Sauce! This was served with Brewery-Cut fries, cooked in Duck Fat and sprinkled with Rosemary and Sea salt. Both of these were absolutely delicious and I can’t really fault the Beer or Food here. Unfortunately, it was time for us to leave.

The next, and final day we decided to walk 5 minutes from our Hotel to the Scottsdale Beer Company for some food and to try their beers.

I went for the Kettle Monster Double IPA, Old Town Hoppy Brown, Texas Tea Double Chocolate Imperial Stout, Uncle Rico’s Red Ale and Orangedale Wheat Ale. The Kettle Monster was a great IPA, tonnes of resinous Pine on the nose and big Citrus hits on the Palate. Very bitter, but in a great way! The Old Town Hoppy Brown was very Toffee and Caramel orientated on the nose, but when you tasted it the Citrus hops soared above the Toffee and Caramel backbone. Different for a Brown Ale, but very welcoming! Next was the Texas Tea, the aroma had huge Chocolate and Roasty notes. When you taste it, it offers nice silky Chocolate to begin with, going towards Roasty malt and a little Coffee on the finish. The Uncle Rico’s was a very well balanced Red Ale with nice Caramel hits with a little resinous Pine in the background. Finally, the Orangedale Wheat Ale, this one’s definitely a warm Weather beer! Pilsner style aromas, with some Orange Peel and Clove on the Palate. Very light bodied and would be perfect for those hot summers in Arizona. As I’d had quite a bit of lovely Southwestern Food during the day, I had the Chicken Chop Salad. Chicken, Black Beans, Corn, Avocado, Tomatoes, Spring Onion, Cucumber, Red Bell Peppers, Queso Fresco and Coriander-Lime Vinaigrette. This was such a fresh, tasty Salad and very nice on a warm evening.

My trip to America was over, I visited some great breweries and had some amazing beers. Every Brewery does absolutely incredible food, and I think that’s really helping the Craft Beer boom there.

Until next year, where I’ll be visiting San Diego for a much longer time!

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